Health Net identifies health care worker shortage solutions

A report by Health Net finds identifying new talent pools, providing the opportunity for upward mobility and the importance of cultural competency training and recruitment are the top strategies to overcome California’s health care workforce shortage. Health Net, an insurance provider, developed the report by looking at best practices and shared challenges among 15 statewide grant partners. The grants are part of a nearly $4 million workforce development initiative.

By focusing on these strategies, its grantees increased clinic capacity and patient satisfaction, improved workforce retention and began to develop diverse workforces that helped correct existing inequities.


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A report by the California Future Health Workforce Commission predicts within a decade the state will face a primary care clinician shortfall of 4,100 and will have only two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs. The number of medical assistant jobs expected to increase by nearly 30% by 2026, which is about 28,000 jobs. The state will also need an additional 600,000 home care workers by 2029.

“California’s expanding Medi-Cal patient population and continued healthcare workforce shortages create a twin set of challenges that must be met head-on in order to ensure our state’s most vulnerable patients receive the care they need – and Health Net is working to do just that,” Brian Ternan, president and CEO of Health Net of California and California Health and Wellness, said in a statement. “By investing in statewide partnerships, education programs and programmatic funding initiatives, Health Net is leading efforts to reverse the workforce shortage trend in California by helping to build a stronger pipeline of qualified professionals to serve our most vulnerable patients.”

The report suggests shifting recruitment efforts to underrepresented professionals in underserved markets and providing mentors and mentorship programs. It also recommends providing opportunities for advancement at all levels, as well as providing opportunities to serve as health coaches and educators for the medical care team. It also stresses that culturally competent care and increased collaboration between parties is critical in establishing equity in the profession.

The Kaiser Family Foundation took a similar look at the shortage of mental health professionals in California, which is currently about 400 psychiatrists short of what is needed in the health professional shortage areas. The problem is expected to worsen as psychiatrists retire and demand for services increases.

Nationally, the lack of health care providers is expected to worsen by 2030 when there will be an estimated doctor shortage of 121,300 and a nurse shortage of 510,394, according to a report by Forbes.

— The number of grantees was updated.